HC Deb 25 January 1940 vol 356 cc759-60
22. Mr. Mander

asked the Minister of Health the position with regard to municipal housing contracts which have been partially completed and on which work has been stopped; and whether he will make arrangements for all houses that are actually in course of construction to be completed?

Mr. Elliot

Returns received by my Department towards the end of November, 1939, showed that about 14,000 houses had been completed by local authorities since 31st July, 1939, and that out of some 40,000 houses under construction the authorities were concentrating on the completion of just over 31,000. Of the balance of approximately 8,500, some 6,000 had not got beyond damp course level. As I have previously stated, the housing question is kept closely under review in the light of the availability of building materials, the special necessities of certain areas, and of the financial position, and I hope that it may be found possible to secure the completion of the bulk of the houses under construction. Preference has been, and will continue to be, given to houses required for the accommodation of workers in war factories and on the land.

Mr. Mander

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many cases of houses being built which will fall to pieces and be destroyed if they are not completed during the war, and that in many of these cases the material is available? Will he give some consideration to the completion of houses in such circum stances?

Mr. Elliot

As I have said, I hope it will be possible to secure the completion of such houses under construction.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

Having regard to the unemployment in the building industry and the need for slum clearance being dealt with, will the right hon. Gentleman keep an open mind as to the relaxation of the present restrictions wherever it is possible?

Mr. Elliot

Certainly, but it is much more a question of the availability of material.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that local authorities who want to start building and have not yet done so will be helped?

Mr. Elliot

All these matters are under review and will be considered in view of the availability of material.

Mr. Hall

The case I have in mind has been under consideration for some months. Can it be expedited?

Mr. Elliot

It depends on the greater or less priority of the case, and the availability of material.

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